Event Details

Title:Report on the accident to Aerospatiale AS332L Super Puma, G-TIGK, in North Sea 6 nm South West of Brae Alpha Oil Production Platform on 19 January 1995
Micro summary:This Super Puma successfully ditched in the North Sea following a rotor failure.
Event Time:1995-01-19 at 1240
File Name:1995-01-19-UK.pdf
Publishing Agency:Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB)
Publishing Country:United Kingdom
Report number:EW/C95/1/1
Site of event: 6 nm south-west of the Brae 'A' oil production
Latitude/Longitude:5836'N 0110'E
Departure:Aberdeen Airport, Dyce, Scotland
Destination:Brae oilfield
Airplane Type(s):Aerospatiale AS332L Super Puma
Flight Phase:Descent
Operator(s):Bristow Helicopters Limited
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:0
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:The helicopter was conducting a charter flight, ferrying 16 maintenance engineers from Aberdeen to the Brae oilfield. Having just passed a position 120 nm on the 062 radial from the Aberdeen VHF omnirange (VOR) radio beacon, and whilst beginning its descent from 3,000 feet above mean sea level (amsl), the helicopter was struck by lightning. This resulted in severe vibration which, a few minutes later, developed into a loss of tail rotor control, necessitating an immediate ditching in heavy seas. The ditching was executed successfully and the helicopter remained upright enabling the passengers and crew to board a heliraft, from which they were subsequently rescued. There were no injuries sustained and the passengers and crew were later returned to Aberdeen by helicopter and ship.

Despite six to seven metre waves and a 30kt southerly wind, the helicopter remained afloat for some three hours and thirty minutes before it was brought alongside a safety vessel. However, whilst secured to this vessel the helicopter's flotation bags punctured and it sank some two hours later, at 1803 hours.

The investigation identified the following causal factors:

1. One of the carbon composite tail rotor blades suffered a lightning strike which exceeded its lightning protection provisions, causing significant damage and mass loss.

2. The dynamic response of the gearbox/pylon boom assembly to the tail rotor system imbalance induced rapid cyclic overstressing of the gearbox attachments which was accelerated by the early failure of the upper mounting bolt locking wire, allowing consequent loosening and fatigue failure of this bolt.

3. Complete loss of the yaw control system and a momentary pitch-down as a result of detachment of the tail rotor, gearbox and pitch servo assembly.

4. The lightning strike protection provisions on this design of carbon composite tail rotor blade were inadequate due to it having been developed from an earlier fibreglass blade which had been certificated to lightning test criteria which have since become obsolete. Eight Safety Recommendations have been madeas a result of this investigation.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Ditching/Water Evacuation
Systems - Engine - Contained Engine Failure
Other - Certification
Other - Manufacturing Issues
Other - Post-Crash Survivability
Consequence - Hull Loss
Close match:In-Flight Engine Failure and Subsequent Ditching, Air Sunshine, Inc., Flight 527, Cessna 402C, N314AB, About 7.35 Nautical Miles West-Northwest of Treasure Cay Airport, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas, July 13, 2003
Descent into ocean, Scandinavian Airlines System, McDonnell-Douglas DC-8-62, LN-M00, (Norwegian Registry) in Santa Monica Bay, Approximately 6 miles off Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, California, January 13, 1969
Fuel exhaustion, Overseas National Airways, Inc., Douglas DC-9, N935F, Operating As Antilliaanse Luchtvaart Maatschappij Flight 980, Near St. Croix, Virgin Islands, May 2, 1970
Ethiopian Airlines B767 (ET-AIZ) Aircraft Accident In the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros, in the Indian Ocean on November 23, 1996
Accidental ditching, Japan Airlines Co., Ltd., DC-8-62, JA8032, San Francisco Bay, San Francisco, California, November 22, 1968


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